Fight for the right to work – Guardian Letters Sun 16th October 2011

Black Triangle and our sister organisation Disabled People Against Cuts (DPAC) are signatories to this letter – we are in solidarity with all our young people fighting for a future and a hope! They richly deserve better!

We all do and so we fight together – side by side! United for a better future!

The announcement that levels of youth unemployment are all but at the 1 million mark for the first time since the 1990s is a devastating blow (UK’s jobless total is highest for 17 years, 13 October). The government’s “work academies” programme is just a cosmetic attempt to deal with a catastrophe. It’s a rerun on a smaller scale of the dead-end youth training scheme championed by Margaret Thatcher.

We are seeing the destruction of hope for a generation of young people. They find themselves cut off from work and priced out of education through the assault on EMA and spiralling tuition fees. Last year ended with a student revolt. This summer we saw riots in cities as frustration, deep alienation and anger among sections of the young and the dispossessed spilled on to the streets.

The future for young people is grim if the Tories are allowed to continue with their assault on public spending, jobs and services. But as we have seen repeatedly, this generation will not suffer in silence. A week ago many young people took part in UK Uncut’s Block the Bridge event in defence of the NHS. At the weekend the spirit of the Occupy Wall Street protests arrived in London with the planned occupation of the Stock Exchange.

One year on from the demonstration at Millbank, students will take to the streets again on 9 November, and millions will strike together on 30 November. This doesn’t have to be a rerun of Boys from the Blackstuff. The future isn’t decided yet. We are going to fight for our right to education and for our right to work.

Estelle Cooch Right to Work Campaign, Mark Bergfeld Education Activist Network, John McDonnell MP, Ian Hodson BFAWU, Mark Campbell UCU, Linda Burnip DPAC, John James McArdle and Phil Lockwood Black Triangle campaign

• The current level of youth unemployment is not only a national disgrace, but also potentially disabling for other areas of society; particularly the education system, where young people are taught to play by the rules and work hard to ensure a prosperous future – only to find that their qualifications buy them less and less. We should call for the EMA to be reintroduced and for cuts in university places to be reversed; but as your editorial (13 October) also recognises, solutions to youth unemployment will primarily be the result of changing economic policies.

Rising youth unemployment, while seriously exacerbated by the recession, is the result of longer-term structural changes to the economy. The future jobs fund was a small step in the right direction and a recognition that, rather than leaving young people to fend for themselves, jobs had to be created.

We could be much bolder, however, using local authorities to create employment opportunities, ensuring that all those who completeapprenticeships are guaranteed a job and demanding that employers incorporate quotas for young people in recruitment policies. Without a more general “plan B” for the economy, though, the fortunes of young people stand little chance of improving.

Dr Martin Allen
Co-author of Lost Generation? New Strategies for Youth and Education

• It’s clear from the unemployment figures that the coalition’s prescription for growth isn’t working. The government needs to recognise that worklessness is a national problem but a local issue – that’s why councils need to have a greater say in how the Work Programme operates. In its current form it is overcentralised and too complex. Workplace, Newham’s one-stop employment shop, has seen more than 8,700 residents find work and get equipped with skills to make them more attractive to employers. This proves local authorities can play a crucial role in the fight against worklessness. 

Robin Wales
Mayor of Newham

• “Lazy” or “scrounger” are two unfair labels used all too often of the unemployed. But as we write, around 30 unemployed youths are on a 330-mile Jarrow-to-London march. And lazy they certainly are not. As trade unionists we fully support these young marchers’ demands, including a massive government scheme to create socially useful jobs. They stand in the proud tradition, laid down by the 200 men who completed this same route in 1936, of fighting for the right to work. That’s why we will be joining the final leg of the Youth Fight for Jobs Jarrow March on 5 November in London, starting at noon at Temple Embankment.

Mark Serwotka PCS, Sally Hunt UCU, Bob Crow RMT, Matt WrackFBU

The Guardian 

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